I started hitting the interwebz hard in the name of spreading marijuana news and information in January 2010, as did Jay. That same month, the New Jersey Legislature passed, and then Governor of New Jersey Jon Corzine signed into law, a bill that legalized medical marijuana in the state. New Jersey became at that time the 14th state to legalize medical marijuana. I’ve always tried to keep a keen eye on what was going in New Jersey because of the timing of the bill’s signature.
I remember there being a lot of joy and a lot of optimism expressed about what New Jersey’s medical marijuana program could evolve to be. Unfortunately, Chris Christie entered the fold. Chris Christie has always made it clear that he does not like marijuana, medical or recreational, which history has clearly shown. Chris Christie’s personal distaste for all things marijuana really hindered the growth of the New Jersey medical marijuana program.
To put things into perspective, New Jersey has roughly twice the population of Oregon, yet when you compare the two medical marijuana programs, Oregon’s patient base is roughly ten times as large. That’s because of the list of qualifying conditions in each state. Oregon’s list of qualifying conditions is much larger than New Jersey’s. New Jersey’s list of qualifying conditions is as follows, per the FAQ’s on the New Jersey Department of Health website:
A physician must certify that a patient has an approved debilitating medical condition to participate in the Medicinal Marijuana Program. Approved debilitating medical conditions include:
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Terminal cancer
- Muscular dystrophy
- Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease
- Terminal illness, if the physician has determined a prognosis of less than 12 months of life.
The following conditions apply, if resistant to, or if the patient is intolerant to, conventional therapy:
- Seizure disorder, including epilepsy
- Intractable skeletal muscular spasticity
The following conditions apply, if severe or chronic pain, severe nausea or vomiting, cachexia or wasting syndrome results from the condition or treatment thereof:
- Positive status for human immunodeficiency virus
- Acquired immune deficiency syndrome
One condition that was added by the New Jersey Legislature this last session was post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In most states, if the legislature passed it, the condition would be added without question. But New Jersey is different, because after all, the measure would require Chris Christie to sign it in order for it to take effect. Chris Christie dragged his feet a bit, but today he signed the bill, much to me (pleasant) surprise. per NJ.com:
Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law Wednesday that would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that would qualify people for medical marijuana, a move actively sought by combat veterans.
Christie said he supported the bill because an estimated 20 percent of veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from this “debilitating” illness.
Other means of treatment would have be tried first before a doctor could recommend cannabis, to prevent “misuse,” according to the governor’s bill-signing statement.
But Chris Christie’s signing of the bill was not jab free. The previously cited article went on to quote Chris Christie as writing:
“The mere potential of abuse by some should not deter the state from taking action that may ease the daily struggles of veterans and others who legitimately suffer from PTSD,” Christie wrote.
Passive aggressive much? I’m glad that Chris Christie signed the bill. It should have been a no-brainer, but all is well that ends well. Now it’s time to add more conditions to the program so that others may ‘ease the daily struggles’ that they experience. There are many, many patients in New Jersey that legitimately, and needlessly, suffer from all types of debilitating ailments and have no safe access to medical marijuana. This is a great step in the right direction, especially for helping military veterans, but there is still much to be done in New Jersey. Onward.
image via Washington Times